In any number of my previous articles about Driver's License Restoration, I have outlined the various risks involved in a "do-it-yourself" Appeal without a Lawyer. In the most recent of those articles, I also noted that I have a very strong belief that anyone thinking of doing a License Appeal on their own should absolutely go for it. In reconciling those two seemingly-contradictory positions, I pointed out that, in all honesty, the best and often easiest Clients to have are those who have tried on their own (or tried with some Lawyer who claims to "do" License Restorations) and lost, because they're "all ears."
Is that self-serving of me? Sure. But let me ask you this: Whatever it is you do for a living, would you prefer to have someone interact with you who defers to your knowledge and expertise in that area, and is glad for your advice, or would you rather work with someone who thinks they know as much as you do, or can at least figure it out on their own, and isn't sure if they want your help or not?
In this series of articles, I will explore this in more detail than before, so that the reader can see why I really believe this, and why it works so well for me.
In that regard, that's why I advise anyone considering doing their own Appeal to "go for it!" Seriously. And since I'm drawing back the curtain here, let me explain a bit more. After 20 years of doing what I do, I am at the peak of my game. I have enough cases to keep me busy, and I would be lying if I even pretended that I have the slightest desire to get on the phone with someone who needs or wants to be convinced that having a genuine Driver's License Restoration Lawyer is the better way to go about getting back on the road as opposed to trying it on their own, without a Lawyer.
Instead, I'd rather that they actually do try it on their own, then call me back after things don't quite work out the way they had hoped. Might there be a few really awesome cases that manage to win without a Lawyer? Absolutely. And good for them! Most, however, will learn a hard lesson, and will come to realize that the saying "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" applies as much to "playing Lawyer" as is does to anything else.
As it turns out, a lot of those "do-it-yourselfers" will call me immediately after receiving a Denial of their Appeal, and want to talk about appealing that loss to a Circuit Court. For what it's worth, I don't do Circuit Court Appeals, and certainly would never consider one where someone represented themselves, or used another Lawyer. Here's why:
The "do-it-yourselfer" blunders into the process, usually with little or no understanding of the Laws that govern License Appeals (DAAD Rules), and often don't even know that the ultra-important Rule 13 exists, much less how it controls these Appeals and the decisions made about them. Thus, when they lose, they have no basis to understand why, much less to challenge the Hearing Officer's Denial as illegal. Instead can only complain about the result being "unfair," which is not any kind of basis for an Appeal.
For those who hired some Lawyer who claims her or she "does" License Appeals, then produces a losing result, they often come to find out that "doing" something does not equate to doing it well. I play baseball from time to time, but don't look for me to be a Yankees uniform anytime soon.
If their previous Lawyer really knew the ropes of License Appeals, then they might, perhaps, be explaining to the Client how the Hearing Officer got it wrong. Instead, it's usually quite obvious that the Lawyer missed something, or just wasn't sufficiently aware of the nuances of these Appeals, and let something pass, or didn't do something which figured prominently into the reason or reasons for the loss.
Either way, someone wants to appeal a loss. The problem is, an Appeal to Circuit Court is NOT a new Appeal. It's not a second chance. Instead, this kind of Appeal requires showing the Judge where and how the Hearing Officer made a demonstrable legal mistake that requires setting aside their decision.
Those kinds of mistakes are about as common as long-lasting celebrity marriages. To be clearer, statistically speaking, so few of those Circuit Court Appeals ever win, that it's not even worth talking about. Rather than waste tons of precious time reviewing hopeless transcripts and explaining the same thing over and over, I just take a pass on these Appeals altogether. This, of course, takes into account that I have a standard of integrity that requires a case to be winnable before I take it. If I just would hold out my hand, take a Fee, and get to work, consoling myself that, win or lose, I'm doing the work I'm paid to do, then things would be different. But I don't work like that.
Besides, I specialize in WINNING License Appeals, not resurrecting dead ones. It may not be what a person who has already taken a hit with bad news wants to hear, but in the larger picture, it's just a waste of my time and theirs. From a business point of view, it's a losing proposition all the way around, unless you're into throwing good money after bad.
This means that I'll be telling anyone who has lost that I can help them win next years' Appeal. By law, after a person files and loses, they must wait a full year to come back to the Secretary of State's DAAD (Driver Assessment and Appeal Division) Office and have another go at it. Thus, we can begin the process of getting things going almost right away, but the Appeal itself won't be heard until a year has passed since they lost.
A fair number of calls I get, however, are from those who have tried and lost, and have waited LONGER than the mandatory year to file another License Appeal. Sometimes, these callers have relocated out of Michigan, and find that the "hold" on their Michigan License follows them wherever they go, and they will be unable to be Licensed anywhere until they clear up the outstanding Michigan Revocation.
In either case, I am often able to help. For those who have moved out of state, I do require that they come back to Michigan to meet with me. Often, the caller will offer to pay my full Fee ($3000 for a License Restoration Appeal) if I just guide them through the process of filing for an Administrative Review, which basically means just an Appeal on the paperwork, without a Hearing. Even though that would be easier money than doing the whole case, I pride myself on actually winning these cases, and I have no interest in just taking someone's money without a firm belief that I can win their case. Besides, most of these Appeals are doomed to lose, as well. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Administrative Reviews are done without the help of a Lawyer, and that might help account for the fact that so many fail. Still, as a general rule, they are losing bets, and one I'm not willing to take, even if it's with someone else's money.
A real License Appeal means, at least for me, going before a Hearing Officer and presenting the whole case, and not just a "paper Appeal." Since I have all the cases I file scheduled in the Livonia Office of the DAAD, this allows me to prepare the case and the Client for the specific Hearing Officer to whom their Appeal is eventually assigned. I go before these same individuals time after time, and I know how each conducts a Hearing, and what is more important to one rather than another, and vice-versa.
In part 2 of this article, I'll continue my explanation of why I would prefer to represent someone who has tried an Appeal on their own, and lost, rather than spend all kinds of time beforehand to try and convince them that they're better off spending the money on a bona-fide License Restoration Lawyer.